The significant public shift away from purchasing albums to streaming played a role in the decision to alter the way the album chart is calculated. Every 1,500 streams on services like Spotify, Beats Music, Rdio, Rhapsody, and Google Play will now equal 1 album sale. The rankings on the Billboard 200 will also include “track equivalent albums” meaning 10 downloads of individual tracks will add up to one album.
“Album sales have become a smaller and smaller part of the industry,” said Nielson senior analyst David Bakula. “To just look at album sales and say this is how we measure success is really leaving out that half of the business that is coming from streams and song sales.”
The same way CDs overtook vinyls/cassettes and then digital downloads overtook CDs, the marketplace is changing once again. According to Nielson, streaming grew by 42% in the first half of this year, and album sales dropped by 15%.
There was major media attention placed on the fact that until Taylor Swift’s 1989 broke the 1.2 million units mark in October, no other album sold over 1 million copies in 2014. Ironically, Swift also recently pulled all of her albums from Spotify.
So far it has been a down year for Hip Hop album sales. While Schoolboy Q, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, and Lecrae have all landed in the top spot on the album chart, zero rap LPs have reached platinum status.
The new Billboard 200 album chart will be published online on December 4.